Construction Zones are Hazardous When Semis Do Not Stop Says Austin Personal Injury Lawyer
January 31, 2012 | News
Austin, TX (Law Firm Newswire) January 30, 2012 – “Construction zones are not as safe as you may think, particularly if there is a big rig in the vicinity and, for whatever reasons, that rig does not stop in time for the line of cars in front of him. The devastation often carries on for hundreds of yards and the injuries and death toll are often catastrophic,” said Robert W. Lee, an Austin personal injury attorney at The Lee Law Firm in Texas.
Take the case of Wanda and John Lindsay. They never saw the truck that rammed them coming, and they were stopped in a line of traffic for a construction zone. Without warning, a huge tractor trailer rammed the back of their vehicle doing more than 50 miles per hour. The results? The back of the Lindsay’s vehicle was completely crushed; the car, totaled.
The car’s driver, John Lindsay, although alive at the time rescue crews got him out of the vehicle, died in the hospital two days later from a massive blunt force head trauma. The Lindsays had been married 45 years, but it was all over in the blink of an eye. Debris from the accident was strewn over a 100-yard radius and the trucker admitted to the police that he had taken his eyes off the road.
The accident raised a lot of unanswered questions for Wanda Lindsay, who struggled with how a trucker could barrel into a construction zone doing the speed he was doing with his cruise control on. It was a question that nagged at her for weeks, until she found out about a medical report from her lawyer. Lindsay had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the trucking company and the driver. It turned out the driver had been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea two months before this fatal accident. “In other words, something could have been done about it, but nothing was,” Lee remarked.
Instead of dealing with the problem and getting the trucker some help, the company put him out on the highway even though this man could maim and kill anyone, anytime, without any warning. And so he did. “The trucking company denies any awareness of the trucker’s condition, although how that was possible with a medical record on file defies all logic. What does not defy logic is the fact that if someone with untreated sleep apnea is put in control of a huge truck, all hell can break loose,” Austin personal injury lawyer Lee added.
Shockingly, it appears this disease is not just a rarity. It is at the stage where it is considered to be an epidemic. Sleep apnea narrows the airway, over and over through the night, and restricts airflow so that the individual never gets enough oxygen. This cycle repeats itself all night, leaving the victim drained, exhausted and almost constantly drowsy. While the individual may not fall asleep while behind the wheel, his reaction time is significantly diminished.
“Frighteningly, a study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates about 33 percent of all commercial truckers are victims of sleep apnea, and that is just the commercial truckers. There are thousands of other big rig drivers with the same health issue. It’s an issue that no one in the trucking industry seems to want to tackle either,” said Lee, shaking his head in dismay.
Although Wanda Lindsay is working towards having the trucking company put sleep programs in place for truckers, it is still likely a goal for the distant future. However, there is some hope on the horizon, as the company that put the driver on the road that killed her husband is now working with a local hospital to screen their drivers for sleep apnea. It is a step in the right direction.
For those who have been in an accident involving a big rig, the only way to ensure justice is to contact a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer with experience handling trucking accidents like this one. These cases are not easy for anyone and the family will have a long road to compensation, whether it is through a settlement or a jury verdict. “Do not leave something this important in a wrongful death lawsuit up to the insurance companies,” insisted Lee, “as their main goal is to reduce the claim as much as they can.”
The Lee Law Firm
11824 Jollyville Road, Suite 302
Austin, Texas 78759